BEAVERCREEK — When she’s on the sidelines hanging out with her Bellbrook teammates, senior Andrea Szep is a friendly laughing high school teenager just enjoying time with her friends.
That friendly persona runs and hides once Szep takes to the tennis court.
With an intensity that would make one question whether to look her way during a match, for fear of possibly having a neon-yellow ball of felt fired their way, Szep transforms into a toughened tennis machine with a vast arsenal of equally deadly shots.
The Bellbrook High School senior scowls if she misplays a point, and that visible frustration only seems to intensify the way she plays the next point. It’s as if the anger from the previous point merely serves to bring her even more into a sharper intensified focus for the next.
On this particular day against senior Dhira Venkatramani, an equally talented senior for Beavercreek, Szep flew through the first set for a 6-0 win. In the second set, however, Venkatramani broke serve at one point to claim a game. That steely glare of Szep’s returned just long enough for the Golden Eagles standout to record a 6-1 set win to take the match.
“I’ve definitely been working on my serves. I think that’s been a part of my game that I’ve been able to approve on from last season,” Szep said, now back to her friendly and smiling self. “I think I do a better job of coming to the net and putting the ball away. I’m just a little more aggressive. I think those are the biggest things that I’ve worked on.”
Szep drives opponents crazy, because she doesn’t always play a point the same way. She can either blast heavy topspin shots from the baseline until she wears her opponents down, or she can chop away at chip shots that prevent her foes from blasting away from their own baselines.
If her foes do happen to get comfortable in whapping shots from the backcourt, Szep has a forehand and backhand drop shot that few opponents can chase down. Try and play closer to the net, with the idea of pouncing on one of Szep’s drop shots, and the Bellbrook senior becomes just as adept at launching strong topspin lobs over them, or rifling passing shots around them.
“I like playing a faster game, because I like hitting the harder shots, but I think if I do end up playing someone who likes to hit everything back, I’ll play that for a little bit. Then I’ll transition a little bit back into the faster game,” Szep said.
Szep is currently 14-0 overall, and 5-0 in the Southwestern Buckeye League. She’s scheduled to take on Oakwood’s undefeated Lily McCloskey in a match of area tennis heavyweights Thursday, Sept. 20 in Oakwood.
“She’s one of the better players in the whole area,” Bellbrook coach Dean Grisso said. “We’re certainly hoping to get to districts with her, and we’ll see what happens from then on. But yeah, she’s the leader of the team, obviously, and she’s just had a great year.”
With an avid interest in pursuing a medical career, Szep said she’s not certain about getting onto a college tennis program. While that news probably just brought tears from several college recruiters, Szep says she wants to give her primary focus on her studies.
“I don’t necessarily know if I’m going to play college tennis, because I figure that I’ll be dealing with a very rigorous course schedule. But I’m still keeping my options open,” she said. “If I don’t play for a team, I’m definitely going to be playing club tennis wherever I end up.”
Wherever she goes, it’s almost a given that the skills and intensity she exudes on the court will surely follow her.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.